The more we look at sailboats, the more we narrow down our field of interest and this is a good thing. Buying a boat is a big decision emotionally, functionally, and financially. Sure, we know the saying that ‘it’s not about the boat’, but on some level it IS about the boat since making a poor choice is going to compromise the experience of sailing and living on that boat. The reason we don’t want to sail Moonrise down the coast of Chile is the same reason people shouldn’t take a small Toyota Corolla off-roading. Sure, maybe it will make it, but the ride won’t be pleasant, and it’s likely to create hardship of one kind or another.
We know that every boat is a carefully orchestrated system of choices made by the designer and by the boat’s previous owners. The common wisdom says that ‘every boat is a compromise’. Tell me what area in life is NOT a compromise? So, true enough. The goal is to find the compromise that works best for us. That being said here is a general description of what we’re looking for. We reserve the right to change our minds about things as we become more educated.
We’re looking for a boat intended to cross oceans, not a coastal cruiser. It needs to be large enough for our family, which means at least 40 feet long, and have a displacement that is adequate for passages, but not so heavy that we will never leave the dock in Puget Sound. Sailing well to windward is a very desirable trait, since we always seem to be doing just that. The ideal hull for us would have a wide fin keel similar to our Cal 34, or would have a modified full keel with a cutaway forefoot, and a skeg hung rudder. We’d prefer a ketch rig with an inner forestay, but that might be asking too much.
In terms of layout, we’d like two cabins, two generously sized settees, a galley that is not an afterthought and is designed with ocean passages in mind, and reasonably good storage. We’d like at least one of the cabins to have a berth that is comfortable for two adults who like to have some breathing room at night. I’d like to say that these things are non-negotiable, but I know better. It will depend on the boat.
Aside from these desires, what’s ultimately important to us is that the boat feels right. That intangible quality cannot be described in the written word. We will know it when we step aboard. So far, we have seen a few boats that had that ‘just right’ feeling to us but we were not ready to pull the trigger on buying: the Spencer Center Cockpit 44, the Westerly Sealord, and the old Sparkman and Stephens ‘Flying Gull’. That last one broke our hearts for awhile.
These boat reviews reflect our opinions of the actual boats we’ve seen, based on our knowledge of ourselves and what we need and like. Because my knowledge is more practical than technical, I focus mainly on the ‘livability’ issues of the boats we’re looking at. Technical details like rigging are best left to the experts to discuss. If your boat is listed in our reviews and we have not yet had an opportunity to talk to you, please contact us with more information about your boat and we will gladly include it in the reviews. We hope these reviews will help you sell your boat to someone who will love it and take care of it, even if it’s not the right boat for us.
- 1981 Allied Princess 36
- 1979 Cal 39
- 1978 Endurance Center Cockpit
- 1978 Hans Christian Cutter 38
- 2006 Hunter 31
- 1978 Islander Freeport 36
- 1977 Islander I-36
- 1929 Milgard Cabin Launch
- 1972 Morgan Mk II
- 1971 Nautor Swan 40
- 1981 Pacific Seacraft Flicka
- 1976 Pearson 365
- 1940 Sparkman and Stephens
- 1968 Spencer Center Cockpit 44
- 1975 Spencer 1330
- 1968 Westerly Cirrus
- 1977 Westerly Conway 36
- 1985 Westerly Sealord 39
- 1981 Young Sun Cutter 35